Best American beer fests 2019 (craft beer festival guide)

Taking a cue from the world of music, the craft beer industry is currently in a festival frenzy. No matter where you live or the style of beer you prefer, there are a number of sudsy gatherings scheduled throughout 2019 that give enthusiasts the chance to try a variety of unfamiliar offerings, old favorites, and rare specialties in a single day or weekend. Here’s a rundown of the nation’s most anticipated beer festivals.

NORTHEAST

Extreme Beer Fest

Where: Boston, Mass.

When: February 1-2

BeerAdvocate’s annual celebration of boundary-pushing brews is bigger and better than ever this year. The weekend-long event features over 120 different breweries showing off their boldest beers that utilize unusual ingredients, unconventional techniques, or some combination of the two.

Pastrytown

Where: Brooklyn, N.Y.

When: March 16

If you dream about adjunct-heavy beers, pro wrestling, and mouthwatering food stalls, then Pastrytown just might be your Valhalla. Hosted by one of New York’s finest breweries, Other Half, this sweet affair will feature a veritable buffet of pastry-inspired beers—not to mention non-stop brawling from the good (and bad) folks at the New York Wrestling Connection. Since the event is being held at Brooklyn’s Industry City, attendees will have easy access the adjacent Food Hall which serves up plenty of delicious eats.

Festival of Farmhouse Ales

Where: Greensboro, Vt.

When: Summer (Exact date TBA)

Hill Farmstead is one of the world’s most celebrated breweries, so it’s no surprise that their Festival of Farmhouse Ales is a tough ticket. The event takes place on Hill Farmstead’s remote yet bucolic grounds but is certainly worth the trip considering it’s the only opportunity of the year to sample such a wide variety of the brewery’s deservedly coveted saisons and sour beers. Keep in mind a designated driver is required for entry, so if there’s ever a time to cash in a friend or family member’s I.O.U., this is it.

SOUTH

Wakefest

Where: Miami, Fla.

When: February 2

Wakefield is going all out for this year’s Wakefest, assembling 120 breweries, including eight of the 10 top brewers in the world as determined by Rate Beer. Of course, don’t neglect the host brewery’s tap list, which will include 30 of their own selections, some of which you won’t be able to find anywhere else. When you’re not busy pounding pours, pump your fists to the live DJ—this is Miami, after all.

Hunahpu’s Day

Where: Tampa, Fla.

When: March 9

Hunahpu’s is Cigar City’s Mayan-influenced imperial stout aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, and cinnamon. Its annual release is certainly worthy of a celebration, and this year, which marks the beer’s tenth anniversary, will be particularly special. Each ticket will include unlimited samples courtesy of 150 breweries across the globe, tapas-style bites from local food vendors, and last, but certainly not least, bottles of Hunahpu’s. Festival-goers will also be able to attend the following day’s Gasparilla Music Festival (which just so happens to be sponsored by Cigar City) at no cost.

Funk N’ Sour Fest

Where: Austin, Texas

When: Fall (Exact date TBA)

It’s a treat to visit Jester King’s expansive farmhouse brewery grounds on any occasion but making the trip to the outskirts of Austin for the Funk N’ Sour Fest is particularly special. This is an intimate affair—only 250 tickets were released last year—that is highlighted by an expertly curated beer (specifically of the funky sour and saison varieties) and food pairing experience.

MIDWEST

Dark Lord Day

Three Floyds Brewing Dark Lord Day beer release

Three Floyds Brewing

Where: Munster, Ind.

When: May 18

Dark Lord Day marks the only opportunity to bring home the brewery’s iconic motor oil-thick coffee and vanilla imperial stout as well as the beer’s ultra-limited barrel-aged variants. But this isn’t merely a bottle release. The event, which attracts an arena’s worth of fans to the brewery, features popular standards and limited brews from Three Floyds, plenty of guest taps, and live performances from a bunch of metal bands that will never appear on your mother’s Spotify.

Great Taste of the Midwest

Where: Madison, Wis.

When: August 10

Billed as the second-longest-running craft beer fest in the United States, the Great Taste of the Midwest has been around for over three decades, long before the industry’s current boom. The popular summer fest, which takes place in Madison’s Olin Park, offers stunning scenery and plenty of beer from over 190 craft brewers that reside in the Midwest.

Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers

Where: Chicago, Ill.

When: November (Exact date TBA)

The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (or F.O.B.A.B. for those in the know) is not for the faint of heart. As its name suggests, the focus of this always-popular fundraiser and competition is a celebration of beers that spend time—often years—aging in barrels, many of which previously held spirits. Over 200 breweries will be in attendance offering pours of rare, high-octane beers that will vie for the coveted Best of Show prize.

NORTHWEST

Portland Craft Beer Festival

Where: Portland, Ore.

When: July 4-7

Toast our nation’s independence with some independent craft brews at this annual celebration of Portland’s dynamic beer scene. Over 70 breweries currently call Portland home—there’s a reason it’s often dubbed “the best beer city in the world”—and many of them will be setting up shop at the fest. Sunday will be all ages so bring the family and enjoy the festival’s numerous food trucks and vendors who will be selling local artisanal goods.

Fremont Oktoberfest

Where: Seattle, Wash.

When: September 20-22

It’s never too early to celebrate Oktoberfest, especially when the folks at Seattle’s beloved Fremont Brewing are running the show. Expect great food, a stein hoisting contest, “Texas chainsaw” pumpkin carving, and of course, plenty of—as the Germans call it—bier. This is one of the few beer festivals that keeps the party going until midnight, so be sure to pace yourself.

Great American Beer Festival

Where: Denver, Colo.

When: October 3-5

Part competition, part tasting extravaganza, the Great American Beer Festival attracts over 60,000 attendees (that’s not a typo) and 800 breweries (also not a typo) from across the country, including all the heavy-hitters as well as a number of under-the-radar gems. It’s like the Super Bowl and Woodstock rolled into one monumental weekend and should be on every beer lovers’ bucket list.

PACIFIC

Horus Hootenanny

Where: Escondido, Calif.

When: January 26

Beer publication Hop Culture is no stranger to putting on incredible fests, and this collaboration with Kyle Harrop and his red-hot Oceanside-based brewery Horus Aged Ales should be no exception. Attendees will be able to sample tastings provided by over 70 other highly-touted breweries, many of which never make there way to the West Coast. The Hootenanny might be your only opportunity to try holy grail brews such as More’s Marshmallow Henna, Voodoo’s Black Magik aged in Willett bourbon barrels, and several other impossible-to-find gems, including several of Harrop’s own stellar sour and stout offerings.

Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest

Where: Paso Robles, Calif.

When: June 1

Paso Robles may be a wine town but on June 1 beer shall reign supreme.  Acclaimed hometown brewery Firestone Walker will be hosting another installment of their wildly popular Invitational Beer Fest, which brings together several of their equally notable peers for some revelry on the Central Coast. Tickets sell out instantly, so be sure to keep any eye out for the event’s on-sale date.

Festival of Dankness

Where: San Diego, Calif.

When: August (Exact date TBA)

San Diego Waterfront Park will become the hoppiest place on Earth once again when it plays host to Modern Times Beer’s fifth annual Festival of Dankness. Expect IPAs of the West Coast, hazy, brut, and milkshake varieties, plus plenty of other hopped-up brews from Modern Times and dozens of other breweries based locally and beyond.

If you can’t make it out to your favorite festival, you can always bring the party home—check out some of the best beer subscription services.

Related Video: How to Do Oktoberfest at Home

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